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Survey: CMOs Prioritize Data Privacy and AI, Support Ad Tech Consolidation

Written by: Shane O'Neill, Director of Content

Our recent research on the state of retail marketing revealed that CMOs and marketing VPs are juggling a mix of organizational challenges, increased pressure to prove ROI, and shifting market forces.

When setting their agendas, retail CMOs are discussing the following topics, according to our survey of 100 retail advertising decision-makers and an accompanying report titled The Retail CMO Pulse Check.

What CMOs are discussing

Data privacy (58%) and artificial intelligence/machine learning (53%) are the top priorities for retail marketers — regardless of a company’s revenue level. “Regulation and compliance, including GDPR” is a close third at 47%.

It’s not surprising that data privacy and compliance are the main topics given the how much attention the roll out of GDPR (general data protection regulation) received early this summer (when this survey took place). AI and machine learning indicate a new focus on data analytics, a topic not historically on a CMO’s radar.

We were surprised that only 8% of retail marketers are discussing header bidding, which is a unified auction that gives advertisers access to premium ad inventory previously only available via direct deals with publishers. The 8% number is shockingly low given that Amazon is now the third most popular header tag among publishers, gobbling up ad inventory that other advertisers don’t have access to because they’re not in the header. We believe advertisers aren’t paying enough attention to header bidding, at their own peril.

Related post: Research Confirms Retail CMOs Are in a Tough Position

On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see that 36% of marketing leaders are discussing incrementality. It shows that this vital method of measuring digital advertising success is getting traction and being implemented.

Consolidation in ad tech? Mostly a good thing

Our separate survey of 100 retail advertising decision-makers shows that 4 out of 5 marketing leaders believe ad tech will continue to consolidate over the next year (AT&T’s $1.6 billion acquisition of AppNexus is the year’s most notable example of ad tech consolidation). Forty-five percent think this is a good thing for the industry. It’s worth noting that 12% believe consolidation is bad for ad tech and 43% don’t know what the implications are for ad tech consolidation.

Here are quotes from survey respondents who believe consolidation is good for the ad tech ecosystem:

“Many of the acquired companies do not have the resources to remain independent and would likely begin to suffer if they tried to do so.” -VP-Level

“Investment in ad tech platforms will deliver better ROI and stronger customer support, I hope.” -VP-Level

And quotes from those who see ad tech consolidation as a negative:

“It creates monopolies that control most of the functions of society.” -Director

“Less channels = less innovation.” -Director

CMO pulse check survey

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